Kristen Nivala / Jewelry
Kristen Nivala began her first jewelry line in 2010 while living in Santa Cruz, California - where the ocean was a 5 minute walk from her house, and the redwoods were a short drive away.
Here, she talks about riding the wave of creativity, how life and business has transformed since becoming a mama, and her dreams of opening up a store.
Tell us a little about yourself and your creative background:
I loved making jewelry with my best friend when we were in grade school. We would go to our local bead store downtown next to the McDonalds, that carried some fancy gemstone beads, and we’de spend a lot of money and make these terrible bracelets. But I loved doing it, the entire creative process that goes into it. Before my jewelry business, I used to dance and making choreography was my main creative outlet. I would teach hip hop to all ages in Seattle, and that was my dream job at the time. I loved doing it.
When and how did you come up with the idea for your shop, Fade Into the Abstract?
Before Fade Into The Abstract I had a jewelry/hair accessory line under the name ‘Boho Plunder’. I made a lot of feather hair extensions and earrings that sold really well on Etsy. After having some success with that I wanted to learn fabrication and other jewelry techniques, something more challenging that allowed for more creativity and abstract designs. I wanted a new name to reflect that and this was an ode to a lyric from the band Ween. The lyric is actually ‘fall back on the abstract’ but I like mine better ;)
Describe your connection to nature, and how it influences your work.
Nature is one of my most biggest inspirations. I began my business living in Santa Cruz, where the ocean was a 5 minute walk from my house, and the redwoods were a short drive away. It was saturated in inspiration and I find myself feeling most inspired after I have found some time surrounded by something that looks like those palms, pines, and waves.
What is your inspiration / process for new collections?
It usually starts with one design that I draw, really terribly usually, and then I test it out. If it’s something I want to wear I will try and make other pieces that compliment it. Sometimes it will just be one or two new pieces, other times it’s 5 or 6 and I try to make it a cohesive collection at that time. It is all very go with the flow. I have tried drawing collections and mapping it all out but it just doesn’t work out that way for me. I am very hands-on and find my best designs usually through trial and error.
Do you have creative habits or rituals that help you stay focused?
I don’t know… When time is limited for making jewelry I usually go in my studio with a purpose. But I do get distracted with some new design and then I try and steer myself back on course. Or other times I just stop an order I am working on and make the idea I have. I have to ride the creative wave while I can. Things have to come naturally I have learned.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve created and what’s its significance?
I love my ‘Helios’ ring, I find it to be one of my most creative pieces and one that holds a lot of power. It has my two biggest inspirational symbols, the sun and the moon. In my designs, such as in life, I am always searching for a sense of balance. And I love the way this design equally highlights the two powerful opposing forces.
What is the proudest moment in your creative journey so far?
Just being able to have learned so much through my own making. I have done a lot of youtube watching and proud to say that is where I learned most everything I know now.
How has life and business transformed since becoming a mama?
Every way it has changed me and for the better. I think I feel more creative or at least harnessed it in a more productive way. Since my daughter, my business has grown a lot, I have a lot more stockists and I have been doing more shows/markets which opens up the potential of failure and rejection a lot more. Having a child though is the single most terrifying experience, and my mom always said after giving birth she just stopped caring what other people thought of her (she put it another way). But I think that’s true for me, I have always wavered on the side of confidence but rejection is different. And being a parent forces you to grow up and see the bigger picture.
What advice would you give aspiring creatives hoping to turn their passion into a career?
Find your creative community, it can be isolating working alone in a shop/home. And finding people around you to bounce your ideas off of is very valuable.
Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting?
To reach out for help and ask questions more, and to not shame myself for being exactly where I was at. We all start in the beginning stages one time or another.
What are you most excited about right now?
New seasons, the transition from Summer to Fall is by far my most favorite time of year. Nature is changing right in front of my eyes and I love experiencing that with my daughter and husband. And I love wearing boots and jeans.
Where do you see yourself, and Fade into the Abstract, in 5 years?
I have always wanted to open a store front and have a backroom where I could teach jewelry classes to kids. Highlighting other new makers is something I would love to do as well, or a space that features local artist and makers in my own community would be great too. But who knows, I just want to keep honing my skills and see where it will take me.
Finish these sentences
My guiding value is acceptance of the way things are and who I am.
I lose track of time when I am alone dancing or working a new design.
I can listen to all ‘TV on the radio’ all the time.
Santa Cruz holds a special place in my heart because that is where i started my business/ making adventure.
I believe in the balance of life.